The Hours by Michael Cunningham

Published: 1998

Genre: fiction

Length: 228 pages

Setting: a suburb of London in 1923, California just after WWII, and NYC in the 1990s

Interest: It was a Pulitzer Prize winner

Summary: The book is actually three separate stories, tied together by the novel Mrs. Dalloway. The first story is a day in Virginia Woolf’s life as she is writing the novel and hoping to get back to London and stay sane at the same time. The second is a day in Laura Brown’s life. She is pregnant with her second child and reading all the works of Virginia Woolf. She’s also dissatisfied with her life, even though it looks perfect from the outside. The third is a day in Clarissa’s life. Her old lover, Richard, has won a prestigious writing award, although there’s some feeling that he got a sympathy vote since he’s dying of AIDS. Clarissa, whom Richard calls Mrs. Dalloway, is throwing a party in celebration of the award, but Richard throws himself out of his apartment window the afternoon before the party.

Final thoughts: Not only did the plot evoke Virginia Woolf, the writing style did as well. I happen to love Virginia Woolf’s writing style, and I really enjoyed this book as well. There’s not much that happens, but the writing makes it seem so important. I enjoyed catching the connections between the stories, although I missed the big one (the second story was about Richard’s mother) until I read the flyleaf in preparation for writing the book review. I need to pay attention to names, and I’m not always very good at that. That fact did make the connections between the stories even tighter.

Title comes from: The hours that were described in the stories, since they both described a single day in the life of the characters.

Awards won: the Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner award in 1999

Reading challenges fulfilled: 5/100 in my 100 Book Challenge, 1/12 Check Off Your Reading List, and an H in the Alphabet Soup Title Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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